Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building

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Adam Clayton Powell Jr.
State Office Building
Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building from east.jpg
General information
TypeGovernment Offices
Architectural styleBrutalism
Location163 West 125th Street, Manhattan, New York, U.S. 10027
Coordinates40°48′33″N 73°56′51″W / 40.80923°N 73.94746°W / 40.80923; -73.94746Coordinates: 40°48′33″N 73°56′51″W / 40.80923°N 73.94746°W / 40.80923; -73.94746
Construction started1967
Cost$36 million (1974)
OwnerState of New York
ManagementOffice of General Services
Technical details
Floor count19[2]
Floor area260,000 square feet (24,000 m2)
Design and construction
Architect(s)Ifill Johnson Hanchard[1]
Main contractorTrans Urban Construction Co. Inc, and Lasker-Goldman Corporation
Awards and prizesNew York State Award for Excellence

The Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building, originally the Harlem State Office Building, is a nineteen-story, high-rise office building located at 163 West 125th Street at the corner of Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. It is named after Adam Clayton Powell Jr, the first African-American elected to Congress from New York. It was designed by the African-American architecture firm of Ifill Johnson Hanchard in the shape of an African mask in the Brutalist style. It is the tallest building in Harlem, overtaking the nearby Hotel Theresa.[3]


The building was proposed in 1966 by then-Governor of New York State, Nelson Rockefeller, as the beginning of development to turn Harlem into a "truly viable community".[4] Ground was broken in 1967 with the demolition of a Corn Exchange Bank building.[5] In 1969 work was halted on the project as a result of demonstrators objecting to the racial makeup of the construction workforce and the intended purpose of the facility.[6][7] By mid-1970 the dispute was resolved and work resumed on the site.[8]

The building was completed in 1973[1] and was initially known as the Harlem State Office Building.[9] While the building was criticized for lacking basic requirements such as a building manager and fire equipment, in 1978 the location hosted Harlem's first giant Christmas tree.[10][11][12]

In 1983 the building was renamed the "Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building" after the former U.S. Representative, the Rev. Adam Clayton Powell Jr., who had died in 1972.[13] In 1994 the building was threatened with closure due to budget cuts; however, it remained open.[14]

Over the years, the building has been criticized as a "killer building" from the urban renewal movement of the 1960s that "disfigured" the neighborhood,[15] and as an example of mediocre government architecture.[16] However, others have embraced it as helping to focus the community's efforts in future development battles.[17]

In 2006, the Harlem Community Development Corporation partnered with the New York State Office of General Services to propose a redesign of the African Square that the building occupies.[18]

In popular culture[edit]

  • In several episodes of the FX American comedy-drama Rescue Me, the building is used multiple times as the fictional headquarters of the department.
  • The building is seen under final stages of construction in the 1972 American blaxploitation film Across 110th Street. As Joe Logart, played by Ed Bernard, makes his run to the train station, he is cornered by Capo Nick D’Salvio’s men in his taxi and forced to flee on foot. He is later caught and thrown from the roof of the building.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b c White, Norval; Willensky, Elliot; Leadon, Fran (2010). AIA Guide to New York City (5th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19538-386-7. p.529
  2. ^ "Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building". Archived from the original on October 25, 2006. Retrieved June 21, 2009.
  3. ^ Garland, Phyl (March 1990). "I remember Adam". Ebony. Retrieved June 21, 2009.
  4. ^ Hofmann, Paul (December 7, 1966). "State Office Site Picked in Harlem". The New York Times. ProQuest. p. 1. Retrieved June 21, 2009.
  5. ^ Gasberg, Martin (June 8, 1967). "Governor Flunks Test as Wrecker". The New York Times. ProQuest. p. 50. Retrieved June 21, 2009.
  6. ^ Johnson, Thomas A. (December 15, 1969). "Harlem Rejects 2 Building Plans". The New York Times. ProQuest. p. 1. Retrieved June 21, 2009.
  7. ^ Kihss, Peter (September 22, 1969). "Governor Calls for Start On Harlem Office Building". The New York Times. ProQuest. p. 1. Retrieved June 21, 2009.
  8. ^ Hunter, Charlayne (April 16, 1970). "Harlem Building Fight Ebbs". The New York Times. ProQuest. p. 43. Retrieved June 21, 2009.
  9. ^ Hunter, Charlayne (May 21, 1974). "State Office B building in Harlem Is Dedicated". The New York Times. ProQuest. p. 85. Retrieved June 21, 2009.
  10. ^ Hunter, Charlayne (September 19, 1974). "New State Edifice is all but Empty". The New York Times. ProQuest. p. 40. Retrieved June 21, 2009.
  11. ^ Hunter, Charlayne (April 21, 1975). "Harlem Office Building Still in Chaos". The New York Times. ProQuest. p. 33. Retrieved June 21, 2009.
  12. ^ Asbury, Edith Evans (December 15, 1978). "A Tree Comes to Harlem; Harlem Gets Its First Giant Christmas Tree Lights Burning All Over". The New York Times. ProQuest. p. B1. Retrieved June 21, 2009.
  13. ^ Johnston, Laurie; Susan Heller Anderson (July 20, 1983). "Name Change to Honor A Harlem Hero". The New York Times. ProQuest. p. B3. Retrieved June 21, 2009.
  14. ^ Connors, Cathy (December 31, 1994). "Powell State Office Building to be Sold or Closed?". New York Amsterdam News. Retrieved June 21, 2009.[dead link]
  15. ^ "Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building". Hall of Shame. Project for Public Spaces. 2009. Archived from the original on March 10, 2007. Retrieved June 21, 2009.
  16. ^ Dunlap, David W. (November 5, 2008). "History Finally Finds the State Office Building on 125th Street". The New York Times. p. A28. Retrieved June 21, 2009.
  17. ^ Taylor, Monique M. (2002). Harlem between heaven and hell. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. p. 29. ISBN 978-0-8166-4052-2. Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building.
  18. ^ Columbia University Urban Technical Assistance Project (Fall 2006). "African Square at the Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. State Office Building". Harlem Community Development Corporation. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 6, 2008. Retrieved June 21, 2009.

External links[edit]